on 13 September 2014
Absolutely superb. I bought this solely on the strength of the amazing Red Eyes having never heard anything by the artist before. On the first listen I liked it immediately. And it's improved ever since. I now love it. It's impossible not to hear echoes of Springsteen/Petty/Dire Straits/Fleetwood Mac and Dylan but it also has a unique sound all of its own. With regards to the Springsteen comparisons; think huge soundscapes, 'big skies' and the vast plains of North America rather than bursting blood vessels and hernia-inducing saxophone solos... It's so nice and refreshing to hear guitar tones drenched in reverb and a guitarist play an extended solo or two (or three or four!). The whole tone, production and use of pianos, keyboards and synths really does give the album a dreamlike quality (as its title suggests...).
The record is just full of beautiful hooks and chord changes. It sounds so effortless and yet its dripping with emotion. A few times I've felt a tear running down my cheek for no particular reason. It's that kind of record. Stunning stuff.
The only dud moment on the entire album is the 'instrumental'. I just don't think there is much need for it when most of the songs have extended instrumental sections themselves (yes, I'm nitpicking). Overall, it just feels a very honest, genuine and heartfelt piece of work. Very evocative. And very, very good.
on 23 March 2014
What an outstanding record this is. I have listened to The War on Drugs develop over their three albums. “Slave Ambient” was great but this is in another league. I bought it, played it, played it and played it. Not for a long’ long time have I been as impressed with an album and I have been buying records for over fifty years now.
The standout track for me is “Eyes to the Wind”. I defy anyone to play it once without wanting to immediately play it again. “An Ocean Between the Waves” is another amazing track. This is seriously good music played by seriously good musicians. Granduciel’s voice is superb and his song writing is wonderful. What a major talent he is.
I listen to a huge amount of music and have done so most of my life. When I listen to an album for the first time I always ask myself if I think I will be listening to it in a few years time. The answer is “no” for the vast majority as there is so much mediocre music around. Fortunately, every now and then an album comes out for which the answer is “yes“. P J Harvey’s “Let England Shake” was such an album. “Silence Yourself” by Savages is another. This, although in a totally different mould, is an album which, I feel, will stand the test of time.
So, we have sixty minutes of sheer pleasure. Not a weak moment on the whole album. Beg, borrow, steal or even buy a copy.
There is always a nervousness when a band returns to the fray after releasing a superb album. The last War on Drugs album, 2011's "Slave Ambient" was in this reviewers humble opinion the best thing to come out of rock music that year. To use a sprinting analogy, it was a sort of "musical Usain Bolt", always edging some very fine competition. With Adam Granduciel in the driving seat the band has a musician totally in command of his muse. It sees him accurately mix echoes of Springsteen with Can, of Petty with Neu and yet still produce a sound all of his own. Granduciel is also in a healthy competition with Kurt Vile, his Philadelphia comrade and former WOD member, that also seems to be pushing both musicians to scale new quality benchmarks. It is thus most pleasing to report that "Lost in a Dream" is every bit a match for its predecessor and a mighty album. The extra dimension is that it is also proudly a classic rock album something that certain commentators seem over ready to declare redundant.
The whole thing kicks off with a nine minute song "Under Pressure". Immediately all the WOD ingredients come together with a big build up, the melodically following guitar lines, a synthesised pause in the songs middle only for the song to return with extra power and fade out over waves of sound. An extra dimension on this new album is that Granduciel's vocals are now firmly up front in the mix. You finally realise what great singer he is, not least when the Dylanesque tones hits particularly on the lines "When it all breaks down, and we're runaways/Standing in the wake of our pain/And we stare straight into nothing/But call it all the same," The single "Red Eyes" that follows is pounding heartland rock which demands the windows rolled down and the volume turned up. Granduciel however slows down after the opening fireworks with the plaintive slow blues of "Suffering' one of his most personal and touching songs to date.
One highlight follows another. The pile driving guitars of the "Ocean in Between the Waves" is followed by the haunting "Disappearing" with hints of Buckingham/Nicks. It is one of the standouts "Eyes to the Wind" which trumps all these. After hearing this Springsteen, Dylan and Petty should camp outside the War on Drugs studio and refuse to leave until Granduciel agrees to collaborate with them. It is a fantastic lyrical song, that is completely addictive and worth the price of entry in its own right. Images are woven of "A cold wind blowing down my old road/Down the backstreets where the pines grow/Where the river splits the undertows". On the excellent track "Burning" the band open out again and throughout this does feel much more of a collective effort than previous releases not least with the sterling support of piano player Robbie Bennett. "In Reverse" rounds off the whole kit and caboodle. This is a song that starts off as drone until the vocal seeps in and builds to a suitably redemptive climax.
Throughout this record there are places where Granduciel whoops in delight at the way the songs come together and fit perfectly. He now has a guitar tone that is distinctly his and a sound that can pulverize the listener yet never be overbearing or bombastic. "Lost in the Dream" is a beautiful sonic mix of wounded lyricism combined with overpowering melody. At its best rock music should offer escape and the prospect of redemption, this album succeeds on all counts.
I appreciate this album has made many magazines "Best of" lists this year, and has been consistently praised throughout, nowhere more so than here on Amazon. I have to admit that at first I struggled to see what all the fuss was about. Sure, it's decent enough but I wasn't convinced on my first couple of listens that there is enough on here to justify such acclaim. But.... I have since returned to the album overr the past couple of weeks and have revised my opinion. I now agree, this is a very good album. So what? Well I just wanted to add my voice to the acclaim and reassure anyone who has not yet listened to this that it rewards repeated listens. It is an album you can absorb and wallow in. For what it's worth I'm glad I gave it a second chance.
on 4 April 2014
Until Adam Granduciel's voice kicks in 46 seconds into 'Suffering', it would have come as no surprise had Stevie Nicks started singing 'Thunder only happens when it's raining...', such does the influence of Rumours and Tusk pervade this third album by The War On Drugs. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is no bad thing. The band's second album Slave Ambient was heaped with praise, and featured heavily in the top 10 lists of many pundits back in 2011. Three years on, and Granduciel has delivered a piece of work that laughs in the face of the graveyard third album that afflicts many bands with a modicum of talent and a dearth of ideas. Lost In The Dream is a an early contender for album of the year, but for hyperbole-phobes consider the evidence before dismissing the statement. By the second track 'Red Eyes', this is an album already in overdrive, awash with synths and driving guitars that push forward a melody so insistent that Granduciel whoops with the sheer joy of it all before thrashing into an irresistible guitar solo. With its cross between Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams' and 'Sisters Of The Moon' intro, 'Suffering' slows down the pace beautifully, but fourth track 'An Ocean In Between The Waves' builds slowly, aided by a pulsing beat, into a swooning and swooping song with long guitar solos awash with reverb and ringing clear as a bell. From there onwards there is no looking back, with not a single duff track to be found. 'Eyes To The Wind' is simply lovely; 'The Haunting Idle' is a shimmering instrumental track with a ghostly clanging guitar sound that slips seamlessly into 'Burning', a song that creeps up slowly until it smashes into a lovely guitar intro. And so on.
Lost In The Dream is an album full of finely crafted songs, each one longish, with plenty of music in them - as others have noted, a proper rock album at a time when rock albums are no longer fashionable. It wears its heritage on its sleeve; Fleetwood Mac and Springsteen most notably, but it has its own very much up to the minute 21st century vibe too. Adam Granduciel has created a very fine piece of work that sounds fresh and original, while being simultaneously timeless. It's the best thing this reviewer has heard for some considerable time, an indication of a talent reaching its peak of creativity, and an album that will last. It will be interesting to see where Adam Granduciel's muse takes him and his band next.
on 17 March 2014
It feels like we had to wait too long for “The War on Drugs” next record “Lost in the dream”. The quality of “Slave Ambient” also created a certain expectation. Then with a smile on my face I can say the band has delivered an album with sixty minutes of great music and is totally worth the anticipation.
Adam Graduciel wrote the songs for after the relationship with his girlfriend broke up. In many songs he tells and sings about the suffering, the feelings, the doubts but also his contemplation and the hope. With this info you could and would expect an hard, dark album, but that’s just not the case. It’s a rather uplifting, still hopeful and cheerful record with excellent, full music. Somehow the contradiction within the record is that although most lyrics could be described as down-lifting, the music is up-lifting.
“Lost in the Dream”: Gone are instrumental parts/songs that felt a little like fillers. A Dylanasque laconic style of singing is present. A dreamy touch is present. Proper sonic textures, accents, changes and nuances are present. Songs born from a soundscape are present. Some Yeah's' en 'Woohoo's' outbursts are present. Music that pushes your forward is present. Distinctive drums are present. A wealth of details is present.
Opening track “Under the pressure” starts with a strange drum sound that makes you think something went wrong with the production or something is wrong with your stereo. But no, it is a clatter of electronic cymbals. Quickly enough it floats into this great, long track. You immediately realize why you were waiting for this record all the time. During the song there are subtle changes of speed, subtle changes of mood and subtle changes of style all put together into this one, most excellent song. At the end you realize the track is a summary of the best of its predecessor “Slave Ambient”. The song is so clever, so rich with changes in details and secretly building up to a climax that you will accept that after the climax the song ends with a kind of fade out of three minutes. What a track!
The single “Red Eyes” perfectly fits with the style of “Brothers” (the faster version) and “Coming Through”: strong acoustic guitar as the basis. “Suffering” is a slow ballad definitely not in the traditional way. No surprise, because we are listening to The War on Drugs. It takes a few turns to like the song, because we are not used to a ballad by this band, especially when the song shares the writers suffering of a broken relationship. But add a Pink Floyd-style slow saxophone to the song and maybe you have the picture: sitting on couch beside Adam, putting your arm around his shoulder to comfort him, to tell him it is going to be alright.
For two songs it is like where to go and maybe one or two minutes could have been left out. But then “Eyes to the wind” is the sound of hope and the sound of re-finding yourself. With a strong acoustic guitar as the basis of the song structure has a small hint of ELO in their best days, but without orchestra. It marks the change in the record from a somehow darker first half into a more resigned and elated second part of the record. It's like we are told that we don't have to worry: everything is going to be alright. “Slave Ambient” provided instrumental sections that sometimes felt like using them to fill it up. On “Lost in the dream” those kind of sections have perfectly melted within the songs themselves. “The haunting Idle” is the only instrumental, it’s the (indeed) haunting warm-up for ‘Burning’
The style, the mood and the atmosphere of “Lost in the dream” record fits very well with “Slave Ambient”, but it is definitely not a copy. On the contrary: in the last few months I have asked myself the question how the band could follow-up the strong “Slave Ambient” The only right answer by “The War on Drugs” is to come with an even stronger and superior one.
“Lost in the dream” is an excellent mix of ambient and Americana. The record is a triumph.
on 19 June 2016
I hear the influences of many other musicians on this - including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Cold Play. Overall this is an excellent album which gives an original take on the music of the 1960s to the 1990s. I listened to it virtually non-stop for two weeks. One of the best things I've heard in a while. Strongly recommended.
on 26 March 2014
Others have described the wonderful music on 'Lost In The Dream' in detail but I thought I'd share my personal listening experience. I unexpectedly lost my father in early February this year and at the risk of sounding over-sentimental have found The War on Drugs' music cathartic, meditative and buoying.
Amongst these sad-eyed songs is such a deeply resonant quality both lyrically and musically. The real beauty is in the subtle complexities - the devastating, muted piano motif in 'Suffering', the change up in fidelity at about 1:50 on 'The Ocean Between The Waves' and the exultant Springsteen 'Woo!'s on 'Red Eyes' as it gains momentum are but three blissful moments. A glib soundbite to describe the music would be 'a future-curious Springsteen playing Boys Of Summer forever'.
Like 'Slave Ambient', it takes a few listens to really get under your skin (and adjusting to such resolutely outré timbres as the syn-drums on 'Disappearing') but then becomes indispensible as your ear picks out more details with increased familiarity.
I love this album.
on 28 October 2015
I can only re-iterate what many others have already said about this fantastic album... It seems as if this is an homage to the more stirring, Autumnal aspects of a 1980s Bruce Springsteen (a genre that I was never that into at the time, but it sounds superb here); it's such a repeated pleasure to listen to. I can honestly say that I haven't enjoyed an album as much as this for several years.
on 18 March 2014
Inspirational piece of songwriting by War On Drugs' Adam Granduciel yet again. Elegantly arranged exploratory and mesmerising songs full of textured layers, atmospheric 80's synths, hazy guitars, pulsating drums beats and vocals echoing in and out like a dream!
If you liked Slave Ambient, your love it! Wagon Wheel Blues is also a great record! If you get a chance to see them live do it!!!!